What was there before everything came to existence?

  • #26
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That is a bit overstated. My age is known and, in a court of law, relates to my birth. This holds regardless of whether that I can trace my existence prior that birth event.
but you aren't defined as the entirety of all existence are you? The universe is and so I think your analogy fails.
 
  • #27
PeterDonis
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you certainly get many textbooks and peer reviewed papers saying the age of the unviers is 13.8 billion years
Yes, after they clearly explain exactly what they mean by "the age of the universe". And with that clear explanation of what the term "the age of the universe" means to cosmologists, the statement is correct. But what cosmologists in textbooks and peer-reviewed papers mean by "the age of the universe" is not the same as what pop science presentations mean by that term. That's why you can't learn actual science from pop science presentations.

I expect you will say this is a matter of terminology not science. But how science interacts with the public understanding is an important of science itself as many universities are now recognising.
I agree that scientists often do not do a good job of describing scientific theories to the public. But that's not what textbooks and peer-reviewed papers are for. In textbooks and peer-reviewed papers, the important thing is to define and use precise terminology, and they do that. The question of what (imprecise, vague, but easier for non-scientists to grasp) terminology will best convey the gist of a scientific theory to the public is a different question.
 
  • #28
Hugh de Launay
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. . . it is said that universe started with a big bang and before it it was a point .so what can we say about where the point was , . . . where did that point exist . Or there was just "Nothing"?
-- in my humble opinion-- When we choose to believe in an idea that states the the nature of what existed before the big bang, or chose to believe in an idea of what exists beyond the edge (if any) of our universe (the one we live in), these choices are philosophical. Physics laws can contribute to the choices we make. For example, cosmologists chose to believe in a three dimensional space beyond the edge (if any) of our universe (As Peter Donis said in post #17 -- "The current thinking is that the universe is spatially infinite.") If the universe has no edge, of course, the cosmologists then believe our universe is infinite. The choice of a three dimension space beyond the edges (if any) of our universe gives our expanding universe a place to go other than nothingness. This is a logical choice because every physical event takes place within three dimensions. The belief in a three dimensional space can be selected to apply to space before the big bang, but time is left out of the picture because time started with the big bang. However, with a philosophical choice you can chose to believe in an eternal past.
 
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  • #29
jbriggs444
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If the universe has no edge, of course, the cosmologist then believe our universe is infinite.
This is not correct. It is possible to have a topology which is finite but is without a boundary.
 
  • #30
phinds
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-- in my humble opinion--
which would be well served by studying some actual cosmology so as to rid yourself of the misunderstandings that there even COULD be an edge to the universe or something outside the universe and the idea that "no edge" implies infinite.
 
  • #31
Hugh de Launay
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This is not correct. It is possible to have a topology which is finite but is without a boundary
I accept your correction because I have not studied this kind of topology -- unless you mean curved surfaces that can be made to be unlimited in two dimensions. May I trouble you for an explanation or a reference?
 
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  • #32
Hugh de Launay
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rid yourself of the misunderstandings that there even COULD be an edge to the universe or something outside the universe and the idea that "no edge" implies infinite.
What do you think I meant by "edge" and by "universe" and by "no edge"? How complicated do you want to get?
 
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  • #33
jbriggs444
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I accept your correction because I have not studied this kind of topology -- unless you mean curved surfaces that can be made to be unlimited in two dimensions. May I trouble you for an explanation or a reference?
Consider as a simple example, a circle. It has one dimension. The points on the circle can be given coordinates from 0 degrees up to but not including 360 degrees. There is no edge. Yet it is finite. The circle wraps around on itself.

You may object that the circle is embedded in a two dimensional plane and that, on this plane, there is space outside the circle and, hence, a boundary. But that containing space is unnecessary. The mathematical abstraction exists with or without the containing space. It is perfectly well expressed as above -- the range of coordinates from 0 up to but not including 360 degrees along with a rule that the "0" end is adjacent to the "almost 360" end. That is an example of a finite one dimensional "manifold".

A gentle introduction to this sort of thing is "Sphereland". https://www.amazon.com/dp/0064635740/?tag=pfamazon01-20
 
  • #34
DaveC426913
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Consider as a simple example, a circle. It has one dimension. The points on the circle can be given coordinates from 0 degrees up to but not including 360 degrees. There is no edge. Instead, the circle wraps around on itself.
To riff on jbriggs' example:

By extension it applies to the 3-dimensional universe. The universe can be wrapped around upon itself so that, if you travel in one direction long enough, you will (in theory) arrive back at your destination.

The naive image of this assumes that the curvature occurs in a higher 4th dimension, but that is not true - it does not require such a 4th dimension to do so.
 
  • #35
Hugh de Launay
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The mathematical abstraction exists without the containing space.
Thanks a lot for your explanation. Is such an abstraction applied to the "edge" (if any) of our universe?
 
  • #36
Hugh de Launay
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By extension it applies to the 3-dimensional universe. The universe can be wrapped around upon itself so that, if you travel in one direction long enough, you will (in theory) arrive back at your destination.
This is true if the observer begins and ends his/her trip inside our universe. Beyond being philosophical, what would an observer outside our universe observe about our universe? -- assuming some sense can be made of such a question.
 
  • #37
jbriggs444
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This is true if the observer begins and ends his/her trip inside our universe. Beyond being philosophical, what would an observer outside our universe observe about our universe? -- assuming some sense can be made of such a question.
It is philosophical. There need be no outside. Any speculation about an outside is just that.
 
  • #38
phinds
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It is philosophical. There need be no outside. Any speculation about an outside is just that.
I disagree that it is philosophical. I think it is nonsensical. "Universe" is, by definition, all there is. It is one thing to say that there might be a part of the universe that has different characteristics than the rest (and there is not at present any inkling that there is such a place) but even if there were, it would STILL be part of the universe, not "outside" it.
 
  • #39
jbriggs444
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Is such an abstraction applied to the "edge" (if any) of our universe?
Since no edge is required and no evidence for an edge is found, no edge is assumed. Instead, we use Occam's razor and take the simple background assumption that, on the largest scales, the universe is the same everywhere. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_principle. A universe with an edge would violate this principle. A universe that is finite but which wraps around on itself would not.

The abstract ideas of a finite but unbounded space or of an infinite and unbounded space give us confidence that we are not building our cosmological models on a self-contradictory foundation. Both possibilities are consistent with the evidence so far. There is no need to choose.
 
  • #40
berkeman
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